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Astros-Reds Preview

The Associated Press

Jay Bruce could be in good shape to match the Cincinnati Reds' club record for consecutive games with a homer based on his history against Lucas Harrell.

Bruce has gone deep in four straight games and has fared well in his career against the Houston Astros starter, who will take the ball for Friday night's matchup.

The Reds' franchise record for homers in consecutive games is five, a mark shared by Ted Kluszewski, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, who accomplished the feat May 14-19, 2008.

Bruce has homered in four games in a row for the second time this year, also doing so April 26-29. He's 8 for 15 with nine RBIs during this run, hitting a ninth-inning homer in a 6-2 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday to keep the streak alive.

"I'm just trying to do the best I can, honestly," Bruce told the Reds' official website. "I try not to think too much about it or look into it too deeply."

The slugger is 4 for 7 with one homer and two doubles against Harrell (10-9, 3.81 ERA), who surrendered that home run April 28 when he was charged with six runs over six innings of a 6-0 loss at Cincinnati.

Harrell pitched well in his next two outings against the Reds, allowing one run over seven innings and not receiving decisions, both at home. That includes his last start in Houston's 2-1 victory Saturday.

"I felt comfortable throwing my sinker in today and a few times away and I got a lot of ground balls and that was kind of the plan," Harrell said.

Bruce went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk against the right-hander in that contest just before he began his home run streak.

Harrell has a 5.10 ERA on the road compared to 2.06 at home.

Homer Bailey (10-9, 4.09) will oppose Harrell again after he struck out nine and yielded one run over eight innings Saturday. Bailey, who did not get a decision, has gone 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in seven career starts against Houston (42-95).

The right-hander, though, has posted a 7.16 ERA in losing his last three home outings.

Cincinnati (83-55) took two of three last weekend to improve to 9-3 in the season series.

The Astros didn't see Joey Votto in that set. The former NL MVP went 2 for 3 with a walk Wednesday as he played for the first time after being out since July 15 with a knee injury.

"I think it went better than I expected," Votto said. "I was happy to be back in the lineup playing. Unfortunately, it came with a loss."

Votto is 11 for 20 with two homers, nine RBIs and seven runs against Houston this year. His .369 career average against the Astros is his second-best versus an NL opponent.

The Reds are 8 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central and battling Washington for home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Cincinnati has dropped four of six at home, but Houston is 14-55 on the road.

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